United in Recovery: Hill’s RDR Team at NEMA Mid-Year 2024

Hill International, Inc.’s Resiliency & Disaster Recovery (RDR) team was out in force at the National Emergency Management Association’s (NEMA) Mid-Year Forum late last month, as RDR leaders met with agency representatives, partners, and industry experts to share their insights and lessons learned.

The theme of the 2024 Mid-Year Forum was “Celebrating NEMA’s 50 years of Policy Leadership: United in Resilience,” and featured sessions and panels focused on national and regional emergency management strategies encompassing policy development, policy issues, and Federal regulations. The forum was well-attended, with nearly all 50 states sending directors, state staff, and others from various levels to learn, share, and discuss the increasing challenges facing public sector emergency managers.

Key topics included grants management, building emergency management expertise and capacity, and recovery planning best practices.

Charles Freeman

“We had quite a few conversations around grants management and administration,” reported Hill RDR Director of Response Operations Charles “Chad” Freeman. “The reimbursement reality of most recovery grants can strain local resources, so finding ways to bridge that gap was discussed at length. There are solutions out there, but finding the one that makes sense for your community can be challenge. It’s a risk on top of the recovery itself: waiting to get reimbursed can put a big whole in a municipal budget but you can’t wait to recover.”

Andy Robinson

The lack of emergency management expertise remained a hot button for attendees in addition to grants management. “Disasters aren’t going away,” said Vice President, Resiliency and Disaster Recovery Andy Robinson, who leads the Hill RDR team. “Quite the opposite, in fact. The data show the U.S. is experiencing more major disasters every year, both in terms of scale and scope. But management of recovery programs remains a highly specialized, relatively narrow field.”

Robinson adds that the spotlight of NEMA’s forum helps to draw attention to the expertise gap, but more ideas are needed—and fast. “We can’t wait for the next generation of emergency managers to get up to speed. Whether it’s through staff augmentation, artificial intelligence, or some other new tools and techniques, folks need the help now to get their communities back up and running.”

Peter Gaynor

One way agencies and elected representatives can help make their communities more resilient and better prepared today, says Vice President, Resiliency and Disaster Recovery Peter Gaynor, is through executive-level training. “Nothing prepares you for the impact of a disaster,” says Gaynor, a former FEMA Director and current chair of the Disaster Recovery Coalition of America, “but having a plan place before the disaster hits is invaluable. It’s the difference between starting to come to grips with your recovery within days versus weeks or even months of trying to decide your next move.”

No one on the Hill team said they expected the challenges around disaster recovery management capacity and planning to go away between today and NEMA’s next forum in Baltimore this coming October, but all said the NEMA forums were bringing the right people together.

“There are a lot of smart people talking about these challenges,” says Andy. “And progress is being made. I’m seeing it on our own team with Pete and Chad and others bringing new ideas to the table, but these gaps are going to take more than any single team to solve.

“Disaster recovery efforts are a global, national, and industry-wide problem,” he concludes. “To paraphrase NEMA’s tagline, we need to be united in helping communities protect themselves and rebuild. And, if this year’s forum was any indication, I think that unity is happening now.”


Hill International, Inc.’s Resiliency & Disaster Recovery (RDR) team at the National Emergency Management Association’s (NEMA) Mid-Year Forum
Hill International, Inc.’s Resiliency & Disaster Recovery (RDR) team at the National Emergency Management Association’s (NEMA) Mid-Year Forum Luis Lugo Jr., Chad Freeman, Andrew Robinson, Peter T. Gaynor CEM®, Martin Altman, PMP